Thursday, 7 August 2014

Minehead, Just Minehead

I had a little promenade around the nearest town to my Mum today. It's never been quite the same for me since the fudge shop closed down, but it does still have steam trains.
Minehead Steam Railway Engine Minehead Steam Railway Engine
And the arcades.
Arcade Horse Ride
And tonnes of plastic beach stuff, such as we used to have all over my hometown when I was growing up.
Buckets and Spades
Not to mention the beach itself.
Minehead Beach Minehead Beach Minehead Beach

I thought about getting some bits for my ickle niece, who I will be holidaying with next week by a beach, but then who knows what the well-dressed 15 month old is accessorising with this summer?
Buckets and Spades

Then I saw a man sharing his ice cream cone with his dog.

Alternate licks.


Minehead Steam Railway

It all seemed downhill after that so I went home.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My Little Niece

I last saw my niece in the flesh back in April when she was only just starting to crawl, and mainly going backwards.
Jasmine 10 months
Now she is on the verge of walking and the crawl is so high speed it is hilarious to watch.
Jasmine August 2014
She and my sister came over to my Mum's for the weekend and Mum has stone floors downstairs. Jasmine's little hands went 'slap slap slap' as she sped off across the floor, which I am sure is just what noise a running penguin would make were we to have one handy. She has added some new faces to her repertoire, of which I captured this one.
Jasmine August 2014
I also got her looking like a young Wonderwoman, with some help from me.
Jasmine August 2014
I got some great shots of her and my sister playing together too.
Jasmine August 2014
It was lovely to see them, and I'll be moving over to their house for a couple of weeks in just a few days. We have a few nights near St Austell booked so if it stops raining we are looking forward to paddling and making sand castles!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Is Cross Stitch Difficult?

This is something I was pondering yesterday when the Mater was waxing lyrical over my latest finished object.
Cross stitch sampler
To put this in context, Mumsy still praises me excessively when I manage to stand up without holding onto the furniture, a skill that keeps me one step ahead of my mini-niece (of whom more tomorrow). She is always very complimentary about the various things I make and assured me that she could never do cross stitch and there aren't many people who could do one like I had etc etc. I countered that cross stitch is easy because you get a grid of different colours and you transfer that grid onto gridded aida fabric and use the same stitch throughout - a simple cross which uses the holes provided. She wouldn't accept this though and so I started to ponder the various cross stitch projects I knew of. For example:
Anchor First Cross Stitch Kit for Beginners - uses 8 count aida which means 8 stitches per inch. With this stitch count you would use the whole of the embroidery thread so you just have to follow the printed chart and use the right colour on the right square.
green one hundred sixty four
(For those who don't stitch - embroidery cotton like this comes very loosely plied with an even number of plies - usually 6 or 8 - which you can subdivide to give you a thinner thread for working on smaller squares. For example, if you use 28 count aida, which means 28 stitches per inch, you would probably only use 2 plies together.)

I can imagine that you need to be a certain age to achieve a basic pattern - the reviews for the one above suggest about 10 years old is a good starting point. But then surely from there you simply need sufficient eye sight and time to complete a project? Scaling up to larger patterns is just a matter of spending more time on it. Smaller squares mean a greater degree of hand-eye-coordination is needed so perhaps you'd need to be 15 or so to do those, but after that, isn't it just putting crosses on fabric in the colour you're told to use?
Cross stitch thimble close up
I think a lot of crafty people tend to underestimate the skills they have because often, and usually after years and years of practise, it comes easily to them. But I always thought I had quite a good grasp of my own skills. I am a very good knitter. I am a good sewer. I can crochet, but nowhere near as well as knitting. I can embroider in a variety of different ways. But cross stitch being difficult? I really can't get my head around that.

One thing I did find difficult to work out before I sat down and read the instructions in this tutorial, was smocking.
Smocking try out
Top right in the red embroidery thread - that was me without instructions thinking "it can't be that hard to figure out". The blue stitching is where I read the tutorial. I am making my Mum a peg bag and she has a great love for both red gingham (or in fact mostly any gingham) and smocking so for the first time I have learnt the technique and put the two together. It is so easy on what is basically a gridded fabric although I have seen it done with my own beloved polka dots in a japanese book and also on plain fabric where I guess you'd have to draw on a grid first in a removable medium. These are some examples from Flickr - click on the images to read more about them and see who did them.
Polka Dot Smocking Pouch
Image from page 37 of "The Priscilla smocking book, a collection of beautiful and useful patterns, with directions for working" (1916)
McCoy smocking design
Naturally there are Blythe dresses in this style too.
Spring's Final Frost Daisy Group
Gosh, there's even a magazine!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

July Makes

A pretty productive month - aided by it being uncomfortably hot and humid outside.
July Makes
Starting top left...

  1. Woven coasters - these have been much in use. 
  2. Pay It Forward gifts
  3. Abortively awful EPP snap frame purses, now dead to me. 
  4. Tomato - least said the better. Spider mites. 
  5. Bobble hat for Jasmine
  6. Bow cardigan for Jasmine in the same yarn as the hat, despite the picture making it look so different. 
  7. July block for the I Love Lucy Swap
  8. Sew Together Bag for Freddie
  9. Mum's embroidery wallet
  10. Curtain skirt
  11. Washi paper and uv resin cats
  12. Patchwork shoes
  13. Sew Together bag for Stacey
  14. Home Sweet Home cross stitch for Nic
  15. Patchwork house blocks for a swap
  16. Striped cardigan for Jasmine
My WIP list from last month was:
  • Quilt for Nickerjac - fabric bought and design decided. Just pre-washing it all at the moment before starting to cut. (Now cut and started sewing)
  • Two more 'sew beautiful' bags being made as presents. (Done)
  • Applecore patchwork part done for a manicure bag I'm making myself. (Still going)
  • Mum's EPP quilt which I've not worked on all month. (Didn't work on it this month either)
  • Jasmine's winter cardigan - all knitted bar half a sleeve and a bow. (Done plus a hat and another cardi)
To add to those I've got:
  • The shawl I was knitting for Mum's 69th birthday. She turned 70 in March. 
  • One more cardi for Jasmine with petals on it. 
  • Cross stitch book cover for me, half done. 
So, busy busy. 

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